Friday, March 2, 2007

Watching and Worrying

Hello again folks,
I spent a fair amount of time talking with Dad this week, much of it just re-assuring him about things like my willingness to take him places and do things to help him and that he has enough money so that if he wants some cash he can just get it, without worrying about the exact balance. After having apparently mastered the task several times before, he had had trouble when he went to the ATM on Monday, so I went with him and talked him through the procedure. That was on Wednesday, I think.
Then we went to the other bank and rolled over the Certificate of Deposit that had matured, so that it is in my name and his, rather than Ethel's and his. He had been prepared to send the proceeds to Lois but I talked him out of it on the basis that, although it was invested with funds from Ethel's tax return, he had a stake in it. I reinforced the idea that he has more potential need than she will, and that she probably intended him to have it, even if she could not really answer the question competently now.
I am now a joint proprietor of all his accounts, I think. The power of attorney he has given me will cease at the moment of his death, so now I'll be able to take care of things without waiting for probate of his will, to act as executor.
I'm still trying to find a death certificate for Aunt Dora so I can get access to the rest of the Allegheny Energy stock and get it invested with the others that have come down from Uncle George Degen, since before the Depression. We had started the process of getting that done several years ago but the papers languished with him in SC when Ethel started getting to be so needy. So now the stocks have been designated unclaimed assets, and I have to file a claim with the state to get them back. They aren't worth a great deal, but have been paying regular dividends for years and Dad has not cashed them because Aunt Dora's name is on one account. The company assured me they would pay all unclaimed dividends, once we got the ownership transferred. Dad had successfully gotten one stock certificate transferred to his and Mom's name, so I have that one taken care of, but the other certificate is turning out to be a pain in the ass to reclaim. I know I've seen a death certificate for Aunt Dora but we can't locate it, so I've tried to get a duplicate but neither the town of Alfred, nor Hornell City, nor North Hornell village, nor Hornellsville township has any record of her death. The certificate is supposed to be issued at the place of her death, and I believe she died in Bethesda Hospital or an affiliated nursing home, but I'm still trying to track that down. I still have to try South Hornell, if that's an official municipality, and the village of Alfred, or resort to requesting a copy from Albany.
Dad is having a hard time being positive about much of anything, takes forever to decide the smallest thing, and has been saying he wanted to counsel with someone. For some time he had said he would like to talk with Pat Bancroft and I encouraged him to call her and set it up, but he told me recently that she didn't seem interested. I talked with her about Dad some yesterday, and she told me that she had offered to come by for a pastoral visit several times, and he had turned her down. So there are evidently mixed signals being misinterpreted there.
I certainly have trouble on that score, as I try to ask direct questions and get all kinds of answers from him, and explain things but find that he didn't get any of what I said. I have talked with Dad -- and I try to do it right at the moment it occurs so he'll understand -- about how he tries to anticipate others' needs and wishes and ends up not answering the question at all, but he's never caught on very well. I remember talking with him about that back when I was still working at AVX.
Dad recognizes that misunderstandings occur, but can't seem to shake off old habits. I've increasingly come to feel that Dad is obsequious in many circumstances, and yet he can be so stubborn about doing things in his "Scotch" fashion in relation to me. I keep trying to give him reasons to assert his own needs and wants and take some pleasure in living, rather than just being plain stubborn about squeezing the last bit of juice out of a lemon.
I've talked with Dad about not walking downtown when the sidewalks are bad, and I offer to take him places and walk with him when I can, but he keeps saying he doesn't want to bother me. He has vacillated back and forth several times about whether he wants to have a car so he can do his own errands.
After agreeing that he wouldn't venture out again, earlier this week, he did. That's when he had all the trouble with the ATM, but he didn't walk across the street and pick up his prescription refill while he was out. Then, yesterday, he had walked to the bank to get more cash, then to Kinfolk Grocery, and then was headed to vespers at the Parish House when he stumbled at the top of the stairs of the Parish House and hit his nose and forehead. The steps, mind you, were bare of ice, and he was holding the railing with one hand and had his groceries in the other. He was evidently bleeding a good bit, as I would expect since he's on aspirin regimen, but resisted being treated, but Pat (who is now an EMT), got the bleeding stopped.
When I joined the vespers-goers so we could all have supper, I saw that he was pretty well bunged up, and later asked about his glasses. He admitted they were scratched but when I suggested we'd better replace them he said "There's no need to replace them at my age". I pointed out he had complained earlier this week about not being able to work the ATM, and had not been able to read several things very well, even before the glasses were damaged, but I guess I have yet another challenge ahead, just to get him set up with usable glasses (the ones he had were already pretty badly scratched and even Doctor Coch had snatched them off Dad's head during his latest visit, and cleaned them.
I know Dad has the right to do as he chooses, and I know that it's difficult to change old habits, but I also want him to have what he needs and have some chances to take pleasure in things. He has denied himself so much for so long that he just doesn't seem to know how to do that. He worries about things that I see no need to worry about, and doesn't care about some things that I think could give him some real joy. Oh well, I'll keep working with him and trying to give him as many good days as he can get, and not create new trouble for him.
The Rogers are selling Al and Janette's old house, where the Bancrofts have been living, and the Bancrofts don't think they dare try to buy it, as Tim is preparing to leave his current job, and Pat is relying on a congregation of old folks for her salary. So I'd like to broach the subject of renting the second floor of 33 South Main to them, with all of you.
Cathy, I understand you invited Dad to come and stay with you for a while. When is Purim, and could I bring Dad to Sherm's some weekend and come back a week or two later, to get him?

1 comment:

shermaniac said...

It's so hard to remember my early days with ATMs. I'm sure they were confusing back then but I've been using them so long now it's hard to think of them as difficult ... though sometimes I'm tempted to hit a language option other than English. Some here have a Chinese option! Especially since my bank is HSBC -- Hongkong Shanghai Banking Corp.

If I were in Dad's state (I am, I know we're both in New York State ... oh, shut up, Sherman), I think I might want to just fall and be stupid too. Not really. It is strange how we can usually see someone else's situation better than our own. After a gazillion years of doing pastoral visits and probably sometimes seeming disinterested, Dad is having trouble being on the other side. Pat might not be neutral enough. Of course, pastoral visits are often not as neutral as an analyst might be.

The system migration was suspended on Friday. We have been having lots of difficulties working out the kinks and we finally just bit the bullet and said "enough." Not entirely sure what the fallout will be yet (and until we talk to the vendor, which has legal and financial ramifications, it's all sotta voce or even quieter). Mac has a free flight and 4 nights of hotel to Switzerland that must be used before June 1st. He invited me along (after Jerry said not interested) and I said I could only go if the migration was halted. Well, now it looks like I can go to Switzerland in later May, after ARLIS in Atlanta at the beginning of the month. Yippee!

Doug, I like the idea of a trip down. Now we just have to figure out the timing. If you want to stay in the city for one or two nights, I might try to arrange with Mac or Heidi for overnight space. Mac smokes but is pretty close to my apartment. Heidi is out in Brooklyn. We'll figure it out as timing nears. You might want to drive to Syosset, leave the car there, and come in for a day or two and maybe stay overnight.

My trip to L.A. nears. I'll be there from the 18th to 20th of March (leave early Sunday, workshop on Monday, home late on Tuesday). I'm staying with Steve Ong whose partner Ed Armstrong worked at Bobst for a few years. I have a nice picture on their balcony in Brooklyn when I was in facial bandages.

Soon after L.A. is Kansas City, the last full week of March, starting the 26th I think. Our hotel is near Country Club Plaza and I'm staying at a b&b not too far away. I hope to hook up with Nancy Green who used to live in Ithaca. She's now with a new husband after, as it were, giving up on Jimbo. Their daughter is having the premier of her film just about now.

ARLIS isn't until the end of April, in Atlanta.

Sorry, this ended up being more about me than reacting to your stuff about Dad and his business. Tell him he's only 88 and has about a dozen years left so he might as well get those new glasses. I now have gradual bifocals and mostly really like the variety. Last night at Carnegie Hall, though, I was having trouble getting Lang Lang's hands into focus on the keyboard. They were playing Bartok. The lady in front of me was leaning forward so I couldn't easily look straight on. I imagine the lenses were at different focal lengths (or whatever) so I was getting some blurring. Also, my Scotch balcony seats mean a serious drop between the seat and the stage, leaving me looking through the lower part of the lens where I'm supposed to be reading.